Volkswagen Jetta S vs SE

Volkswagen Jetta S vs SE: Which is Better?

Chandler Stark

Meet Trey

Trey is an automotive enthusiast and has a huge passion for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles of all kinds. His enthusiasm started with the MK5 GTI, and he has massively expanded his knowledge over the years. When Trey is not delivering high-quality and in-depth content, we can usually find him working in his garage on his modified Genesis coupe. Trey created VW Tuning several years ago, and he is the primary visionary behind the content.

We’ve done other VW comparisons like the VW Atlas vs Atlas Cross Sport and the VW Passat vs Jetta, but we decided we should tackle two specific trims with the Jetta, the VW Jetta S vs SE. To be honest, there aren’t very many differences, but we will make sure to cover everything related to the two trims. We’ll be touching on performance, price, size, reliability, safety, and more for both trims.

VW Jetta S vs SE – The Basics

The Volkswagen Jetta was first introduced in 1979 to fill the sedan niche for Volkswagen after producing the Volkswagen Golf. Specifically, it is classified as Volkswagen’s compact car. The Jetta is Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle ever, selling over 14 million units as of 2014. So who knows how many they have sold in 8 more years. The Jetta has had 7 generations since its inception. It is also referred to as many different things in other markets: Atlantic, Bora, Vento, Clasico, and Sagitar. The Jetta has had many different body styles as well: 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, and 5-door wagon.

Volkswagen Jetta Generations

VW Jetta S vs SE Price

New & Used Volkswagen Jetta S & SE Price

A VW base Jetta, S, with a 1.5T engine starts at $21,360 with a 6-speed manual transmission, while a Jetta S with the same engine, but with an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission starts at $22,160. A Jetta SE with the same engine with, but only offers the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, starts at $25,090. For used Jetta’s we will be going over prices from MK5 Jettas to the MK7 Jettas. So a used Jetta S’ prices range from $2,000 – $27,995* with an average price overall of $14,997*, depending on model year and mileage. While a used Jetta SEs prices range from $4,499 – $27,998* with an average price overall of $16,248*, depending on model year and mileage. When it comes to price, there isn’t much of a difference. However, there is still a few thousand dollar difference. So why are the Jetta SEs more expensive?

*At the time of writing this article, we believe we are in a market where used vehicles are inflated, so consider that when seeing the used prices above. 

General Jetta S & SE Topics

VW Jetta S vs SE Size

Below are some basic details about the size and weight differences seen between the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta S and the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta SE.

Volkswagen Jetta S vs SE

To no surprise, there is no size difference between the Jetta S and Jetta SE. The only difference is curb weight and it’s because there are a few upgrades on the SE. However, we will go into that a little bit later in the article.

VW Jetta Performance

For consistencies sake, we will be using the 2022 Jetta S and 2022 Jetta SE factory performance specs.

Engines, Drivetrain, & Fuel Economy

Jetta S & SE Performance

A 2022 Volkswagen Jetta S features a 1.5T TSIengine that puts out 158hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The S trim comes with two transmission options: an 8-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission and a 6-speed manual transmission. A Volkswagen Jetta SE also features a 1.5T TSI engine that puts out 158hp and 1814 lb-ft of torque. However, it only has one transmission option: an 8-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission. Both trims only offer FWD drivetrain.

The S model with the manual transmissions gets 29mpg in the city and 43mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 34mpg with a 13.2gal fuel tank. The S model with the automatic transmission gets 31pg in the city and 41mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 35mpg with the same fuel tank capacity. Lastly, the SE with the automatic transmission gets 29pg in the city and 40mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 33mpg with a 13.2gal fuel tank.

VW Jetta Reliability and Common Problems

Volkswagen Jetta

Is the Volkswagen Jetta reliable? According to RepairPal, they rated the Jetta’s reliability above average with a 4 out of 5. This ranks the Jetta 21st out of all 36 compact cars. If you happen to be in the market for a used Jetta, we highly advise avoiding 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, & 2019 model years. With that said, the most reliable Jetta model years are 2011 and 2017, so these may tend to be priced higher in the used market. Annual maintenance ownership costs average around $609, which is above the average $526 for other compact cars/.

We’ve compiled common problems seen in Jettas based on all our Jetta posts. These problems include engine misfires due to premature ignition coil failure, excessive oil consumption, power window regulator failure, timing belt failure, water pump failure, and faulty throttle body and torque converter. We have seen many Jettas last well over 250,000 miles without any major engine failures, It is just a matter of how well the vehicle is maintained.

7 Most Common VW MK5 Jetta/MK5 GLI Engine Problems

The 7 Most Common Volkswagen MK6 Jetta Problems

The 7 Most Common Volkswagen MK7 Jetta Problems

VW Jetta S vs SE – The Real Difference

Up to this point, there haven’t been very many differences between the trims on the surface. However, in this paragraph, we will go over the major differences between the two trims. The Jetta S is considered the base Jetta. Therefore, expect it to be fairly bare-bones in the interior and tech. The SE features 17″ inch rims, keyless access, push to start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and power driver seat. A lot of options packages are offered for the S trim that is standard on the SE, such as the Driver Assistance Program or Cold Weather Package. The SE offers upgraded V-Tex leatherette upholstery and a center armrest. Safety features that also come standard on the SE are Forward Collision Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring.

We always advise going out and getting first-hand experience when you are looking to purchase a new vehicle. Therefore, if you are serious about purchasing a Jetta S or SE, make a test drive appointment with your local VW dealer or used lot. Getting behind the wheel and seeing both trims in person will assist the most in your purchasing decision.

VW Jetta S vs SE Conclusion

In conclusion, we hope the information above will assist anyone in choosing the best trim for them. We know that purchasing a vehicle is a daunting task, so we hope to alleviate the research process. In short, the Jetta SE provides more bells and whistles, while the Jetta S is the base Jetta that provides better gas mileage. If anyone reading this happens to have any first-hand experience with both trims, or either trim, let us know your experience in the comments below. Not only will this assist us in our research, but it will also help future readers in their purchasing decision.

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